Santa’s Trains coming to Look Park

  • An illuminated castle sparkles as the sun goes down Nov. 26, 2017 at Look Park’s Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Display in Northampton. Gazette Photo/Sarah Crosby

  • A train scene is featured Nov. 26, 2017 at Look Park’s Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Display in Northampton. Gazette Photo/Sarah Crosby

For The Recorder
Monday, December 04, 2017

NORTHAMPTON –– Look Park, while city-owned, receives no funding from federal, state or local taxes. Instead, it relies on grants, as well as entrance fees and donations from the public, to operate year-round. The holiday season is when the park gets to say thanks for all the support.

In doing so, from Nov. 24 to Jan. 1, Florence’s Look Park puts on its nightly Winter Wonderland Holiday Lights Display, a free, self-guided tour to view its hand-made, light-up structures.

In addition, the park puts on a Santa’s Trains event, which is also free, from Dec. 8 to Dec. 23 from 4 to 8 p.m. There, children can meet Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, as well as Santa’s elves, and drink hot cocoa, eat Christmas cookies and see Christmas-themed model trains pass through miniature landscapes and villages.

On Christmas Eve, the Santa’s Trains event is also on, but from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. so that “Santa can get back to the North Pole and get ready for his big night,” according to Look Park Executive Director Shawn Porter.

The attractions, Porter says, are to show the spirit of giving. After all, Look Park itself was a 1920s donation to the city from Fannie Burr Look, whose husband Frank Newhall Look was a local businessman and manufacturer of a popular toothbrush.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re wealthy or poor or anything in between. We try and give you something beautiful with the lights display,” Porter said. “What’s beautiful about it is the holiday is a time to give back, because everyone supports the park the rest of the year.”

An evening stroll or drive through the park to see the holiday lights display is free, although donations are recommended. The lights are on from dusk until 9 p.m.

Some of these structures tower stories off the ground, featuring nature-themed pieces (a bear, a woodpecker, ducks), holiday-themed pieces (Santa’s sleigh) and unique works from the imaginations of the maintenance staff that builds them.

The grounds of the 300 North Main St. park are scattered with more than 50 of these creations, wrought from metal, wires and, of course, Christmas lights. According to Porter, each structure has been carefully crafted over weeks or months.

The newest addition to the lights display is a 30-foot-tall castle.

“A lot of it is left to our maintenance team, and princesses and kind-of fantasy world things are popular. We always want something big and beautiful and bold,” Porter said.

Theresa Klepacki of Hatfield walks at Look Park everyday with her husband, Jim, and appreciates the atmosphere.

“They keep everything clean in the winter –– one of the only places that does,” Theresa Klepacki said. “Now (that) the lights are on, we can come here at night, too.”

Jim Klepacki likes the variety of animals and features.

“They’ve got a woodpecker, dragon, Snoopy, a little of everything,” Jim Klepacki said.

As for Santa’s Trains, Porter says it is one of the most famous things the more-than-150-acre park does, and that about 12,000 visitors flock to Look Park each year solely for the event.

“It’s a well-supported, well-sponsored event,” Porter said.

Santa’s Trains has more than 130 sponsors, according to Porter, including People’s Bank, Greenfield Savings Bank, Bob and Marianne Foote of Northampton, and Mike and Gina Wall of Northampton.